It's no secret that come January 1, many Americans name weight loss as their number one New Year's resolution. And, as it goes, just one week into the new year, people begin falling like flies when it comes to sticking to diet and exercise. In fact, according to a 2018 study, researchers found that the rate at which people stick to weight loss goals drastically drops 25% at the one-week mark, 33% by February, and 50% by June.
Disheartened? Don't be. The point is that we put so much pressure on ourselves, creating lofty goals and tackling them at full force, only to burn out or become immediately disappointed when we don't see instantaneous results. But there is an effective approach to accomplishing your resolutions without completely losing your mind (and intentions) along the way. It just requires a little patience and maybe a little attitude adjustment. Scroll on for some doable fitness resolutions recommended by experts that you’ll actually enjoy trying throughout the year.
1. Choose a Workout You Enjoy
It's a no-brainer, really: Turn the odds of commitment in your favor by choosing a workout that you actually enjoy, rather than opting for something that promises fast results but makes you want to chuck your sneakers out of a high-rise window just so you don't have to go.
"If you love to run, then find a program that has running in it. If you don’t like to run, then don’t do that program!" states Joel Freeman, Beachbody Super Trainer. "Forcing yourself to do a workout/program that you really aren’t into will find you making any excuse to not do it."
2. Try New Workouts, Too
That being said, your new favorite thing could be a trial class away. If you feel that you're plateauing or bored—or even if you love what you're currently doing but are still down to try something new—consider trying something different. Not only might this make your routine a little more interesting, but it'll challenge your body and muscle memory as well. Are you a cardio queen who tends to avoid strength training? Give those weights a try. You'd be amazed at the results.
"Whether it's virtual or in-person, try a new type of workout that you haven’t done before!" recommends Cat Kom, CEO and founder of Studio SWEAT onDemand. "This could be something like a Pilates or spin class, or something even more out of the ordinary like kickboxing, dance cycle, or even a cycle yoga fusion class." You'll be so distracted by piquing your sense of adventure that you'll forget you're breaking a sweat.
3. Shop Around For the Best Gym Deal
The good news is that with so many options on the fitness market, a lot of gyms and companies provide plenty of incentive to try their classes out. "Sign up for a fitness studio that has a deal going on (like a $10 for 10 days deal) and tests out the workout," says Blair Bonifield, a Nashville, Tennessee yoga instructor. "Doing a deal takes less commitment and can be a fun experiment to see if you like the workout and it will push you to go because you only have the deal for a set amount of days."
On the other hand, if you're new to your town or neighborhood or just don't know where to begin, it might be worth investigating a service like ClassPass or FitReserve, both of which curate all your local studios and let you trial several under a monthly blanket fee. Even if you just do it for a few months, it's a great way to get a taste of what you like.
4. Try A Personal Training Session
…especially if you're one of those people who only go to the gym for the classes or the cardio machines. Just one intensive session with a personal trainer can help you better understand how to approach your personal goals and finally get you acquainted with those mystifying weight machines. Not to mention tweaking your form, which alone can be the difference between a fat-blasting, muscle-sculpting routine and a recipe for injury.
"Hire a personal trainer and make the financial investment," comments Christian Koshaba, founder and owner of Three60Fit. "It’s very difficult to stay motivated if you don’t feel confident in your technique and safety, as well as understanding what exercise regimen is right for your goals."
If the price tag is your only hesitation, keep in mind that many gyms offer free or heavily-discounted sessions with fitness pros upon signing up for a membership. If you're already a longtime member, ask someone at the front desk if there are any deals available. (And don't be afraid to negotiate.)
5. Download a Fitness App
Because there's an app for that—several hundred, in fact. From yoga to interval training to running, there are countless digital coaches that are merely a swipe or two away for the cost of chump change or nothing at all. Real talk: We credit C25K (free) for getting our running-phobic butts into gear. And we actually like it now. Really!
Plus, more and more boutique gyms are offering online streaming sessions and apps so you can take your workout anywhere, even if it's just the comfort of your own living room. Struggling to get motivated for your Kayla Itsines session (starting at $13) when your bed is in the next room? Recruit a friend so you can keep each other in check—no carpool to the gym required. "It’s so much easier to stay focused and engaged when you get a friend or partner to take this journey with you," comments Emma Middlebrook, owner and trainer of REP Movement.
6. Forget What the Scale Says
Focusing on hard-and-fast numbers isn't just torturous, it's often inaccurate. Factors like water retention and your menstrual cycle can make your weight fluctuate up to 10 pounds in a single day. There's also the fact that muscle weighs more than fat, meaning you could be whittling your waist without seeing the needle on the scale move at all. But you're not necessarily thinking that when you're standing there looking at that unforgiving number. Instead, you might be blaming the nibble of chocolate you had the night before, or vowing to double down on punishing workouts. (Rationally, you would have to eat an additional 3500 calories in a day—in addition to the roughly 1500 you need for basic survival—to gain a single pound. But it's hard to remember that in the moment!)
"Instead of measuring your body weight, get measurements," recommends Nick Urban, performance health coach and integrated movement scientist at Outliyr.com. "Either quantifiable changes in your personal performance, or complete body composition measurements through technology like a DEXA scan."
You can also track your progress in a fashion that's far less ironclad and way more upbeat. This could be noticing how your clothes fit, how much stronger you are, how much easier that last run was, or even how you can now carry your groceries up the stairs of your five-floor walk-up without breaking a sweat.
7. Ditch the Dieting
Cutting out every questionable part of your diet just isn't sustainable or healthy—not to mention that crash diets tend to have a less-than-ideal impact on your personality.
"Instead of depriving yourself of something you enjoy be more mindful, cut back; don’t cut out," states Middlebrook. Maybe for you it's chocolate, diet soda, your nightly glass of wine, whatever. You want to allow those things in moderation. The point is that you're maintaining a reasonable sense of control without feeling deprived.
8. Make Small Changes
Nothing is too minuscule. Have a tendency to take the elevator? Vow to hit the stairs instead. Park a few blocks away from home so you can guarantee yourself a bit of a stroll after your commute. Take your morning coffee to go… on a walk around the neighborhood.
"Set REAL expectations for yourself," comments Freeman. "Focus more on setting smaller, attainable weekly goals…then they will start adding up quickly to your overall main goal!"
9. Always Include Rest Days
It's not all go, go, go. Giving yourself a break is just as important in order to avoid burnout or injury. You might be tempted to throw yourself into a daily workout routine, but easing your way into it (every other day, for example) might be a smarter (and more sustainable) route.
"Recovery days are just as important as training days because they allow your body to heal and rebuild while promoting the development of muscle tissue," says Nicole Uribarri, director of programming at bande.
Feeling sore but still itching to get moving? Opt for active rest, like a gentle yoga class or an easy walk. And remember that working out your brain is still fair game. Regular meditation practice provides major wellness benefits while giving your muscles a breather.
10. Change Your Attitude
Why look at getting in shape as a necessary evil? The first step is to stop looking at working out as a means to something—be it crop-top-worthy abs or undoing a little holiday padding—and instead see it as a fun, daily adventure.
Focus on the awesome instructor, the gym's great community, those crazy endorphins after a killer sweat sesh, or the newfound energy and focus you have to tackle the day. Toned, strong muscles? Well, that's just a nice side effect.
Up next: Discover the workouts that burn the most calories.
Statistic Brain. New Years Resolution Statistics. Published December 15, 2018.